Get into the festive spirit by baking a show-stopping classic Christmas cake. This fabulous frosted fruitcake is the perfect traditional treat for your family and friends during the festivities.
- Remove zest from orange and lemon with a fine grater, and squeeze the juices. Put all zest and juice in a bowl with mixed dried fruit and glace cherries. Add the brandy or tea, cover with cling film and soak for a minimum of one hour or overnight.
- Pre-heat the oven to gas 2, 150°C, fan 130°C.
- Grease and line a 20cm cake tin, preferably with a removable base.
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and black treacle until paler and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating each one in thoroughly before adding the next one. In another bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds and mixed spice and stir to mix thoroughly. Then add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and fold in gently until thoroughly combined.
- Add the soaked fruit and all the juices, plus the nuts if liked. Fold gently together until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Turn the mixture into your prepared cake tin and flatten the surface. Place in the centre of the oven, and bake for 2 hours or until golden brown and springy to the touch. Use a sharp knife or skewer to test the cake. If there is still wet mixture on the blade, bake for another 20-30 minutes. It should come out clean.
- When the cake is cooked, cool for an hour in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack. You can pierce the cake all over with a skewer and add another tbsp brandy to soak in if liked.
- The cake can be kept wrapped in foil or cling-film in a tin for up to 2 months. When you are ready to finish the cake, warm the apricot jam to soften, and brush over the whole cake. Dust the work surface with a little icing sugar, and roll out half the marzipan.
8. Cut a 20cm circle drawing round the cake tin as a pattern. Cut out a band of marzipan, again using the side of the tin as a guide.
9. Place the circle on the top, and stick the band around the sides, pressing into place and filling any gaps.
10. If possible, allow the marzipan layer to dry overnight.
11. To make the icing, beat the sifted icing sugar with the egg white* and lemon juice until glossy. Spread over the cake with a palette knife, forming soft peaks to look like snow drifts. Decorate with edible silver balls or other decorations.
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*If serving vulnerable groups - babies, toddlers, pregnant women, the elderly or people who are unwell - this icing will not be suitable as it contains a raw egg white. You could use ready-to-roll fondant icing as an alternative.